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'Freaking out': Keary's pre-grand final night terror

Six months ago Luke Keary woke up sweating and screaming in an Olympic Park hotel room.

Roughly six hours later he was red hot again en route to a Clive Churchill medal and Roosters grand final triumph, all while roommate Cooper Cronk screamed and barked orders alongside him.

Keary and Cronk will combine once more in 2019 as the halves pairing many see capable of delivering the first back-to-back premierships of the NRL era.

The two playmakers were paired up when the Tricolours lodged at the Novotel on grand final eve last year, a few hundred metres from ANZ Stadium and their Melbourne opponents staying at the Pullman.

Aside from the 15-centimetre tear in Cronk's scapula and the storm of speculation around their No.23, the Roosters are sweet.

By the time Keary and Cronk hunker down for a pre-game nap, the latter is firming to take the field. And the former soon found himself enduring the first night terror he can remember.

"The day of [the grand final] we were having an afternoon kip in the hotel and there was loud music coming in from downstairs," Keary grins ruefully.

Roosters halves Cooper Cronk (left) and Luke Keary celebrate after the 2018 grand final.
Roosters halves Cooper Cronk (left) and Luke Keary celebrate after the 2018 grand final. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

"I woke up having a night terror and was freaking out. I hate sleeping with the air con on so I turned it off and went to sleep.

"The room was stinking hot and we had all the windows shut up because of the music.

"We both woke up sweating and I was having some sort of nightmare. I couldn't tell you what it was. I didn't know what was going on.

"He probably thought I was freaking out – 'oh we're done here' - but I was sweet after that.

"I didn't give it a second thought or anything, I forgot about it. I don't know if it got rid of any nerves or anything but I was alright afterwards and throughout the day."

Keary hasn't had a night terror before or since and reckons it had nothing to do with Cronk's crook shoulder - or the expectations about to fall on his own.

Night terror or not, he handled the occasion and then some with a try-assist, field goal, 70-odd touches and man of the match honours.

Cronk meanwhile cajoled, carolled, nudged and budged his teammates around the paddock against his former Storm teammates, delivering a Roosters title without registering a single run.

The title defence hit an early snag with the Rabbitohs coming up 26-16 trumps last week, Keary hitting headlines by labelling Cody Walker "disrespectful" with his sledging of Angus Crichton.

It starts all again this Saturday at Manly. Keary and Cronk running the show once more.

The 27-year-old's running game and continued development had him touted for representative honours right through 2018.

Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary.
Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary. ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

His Clive Churchill Medal and James Maloney's neck injury delivered a couple of maiden Kangaroos Tests at season's end.

Keary is now more than comfortable orchestrating an attack if need be, but doesn't expect to be playing the lead while ever Cronk is alongside him.

"We'll have little tweaks and that, but there won't be too much of a change there," he told NRL.com.

"That game I did have to take more control than at basically any point in the season.

"Coops played pretty much every game last year so I didn't really have that role at all until the grand final, that simply wasn't the way we would approach it and the chance wasn't there.

"But I've still got my role to play as a five-eighth, I don't think too much changes there.

"So yes and no as far as developing that side of my game."